The CEO of SA National Parks (SANParks) Fundisile Mketeni has been granted R2,000 bail after appearing in court on assault and sexual assault charges.
The criminal complaints, laid against Mketeni on Friday in Skukuza, Kruger National Park, have also led to him taking special leave from his SANParks duties.
He appeared in court on Monday, together with three other individuals on similar charges. Two of his co-accused are male SANParks employees while the third is a woman who is not a SANParks employee, according to the statement.
SANParks chair Joanne Yawitch said: “In line with SANParks’ commitment to ethical conduct and the seriousness of the allegations, Mr Mketeni has requested to take special leave until such time as this matter has been resolved and the law has taken its course.
“The Board of SANParks views the allegations made in an extremely serious light and will allow the court proceedings to take their course and reach conclusions on the allegations. The board will, however, investigate whether the circumstances surrounding the allegations led to any improper or illegal conduct that may affect the employment relationship.”
Mketeni was appointed CEO of SANParks in 2014 after spending 10 years in the then department of environmental affairs as a deputy director-general, responsible for biodiversity and conservation.
He has also played an instrumental role in the development and implementation of SA’s rhino anti-poaching legislation and policies as he headed the development of the rhino safety and security strategy. He lead the SA negotiating teams to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) between 2004 and 2012.
Mketeni also played a leading role in the development and implementation of the country’s elephant management policy.
Dr Luthando Dziba, the managing executive of conservation services at SANParks has been appointed as acting CEO.
SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla told Business Day on Tuesday that Mketeni presented himself to court and was given R2,000 bail.